Coastal Community Foundation Announces 2017 Reverend Pinckney Scholars

11 rising college freshmen receive a total of nearly $80,000, join 2016 cohort in growing program

 CHARLESTON, S.C. June 14, 2017 – Coastal Community Foundation today announced the second cohort of scholarship recipients of the Reverend Pinckney Scholars Program, established at the Foundation in memory of the late Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney and in response to the June 17, 2015 massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church.
“Furthering your education was always important to Clementa. He valued it and felt it should not be taken for granted,” says Jennifer Pinckney, widow of Reverend Pinckney. “I know that he is smiling down as he sees all of the Pinckney Scholars moving forward in life to improve upon themselves and strive to make a better future. This year’s group of scholars are amazing.”
The four-year renewable scholarship program, which is dedicated to promoting access to higher education for African American students, will benefit 11 Class of 2017 scholars from Beaufort, Charleston and Jasper Counties who will receive a total of approximately $80,000 for each of their four years of college, in addition to supportive resources (professional development and networking opportunities) through the Foundation during their college career.
“Our Class of 2017 Pinkney Scholars embody an impressive variety of intellectual interests and life experiences,” says noted author, historian, and Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates. “What unites them, though, is their passion for learning, and the use of education to effect positive social change in their communities. These students are destined for greatness, and I am honored to be part of the committee that has the privilege of selecting them.”
Summer Boyd, Porter-Gaud School (American University)
Aaron Campbell, R.B. Stall High School (Emory University)
Davontay Dopson, Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School (Newberry College)
Janelle Green, Academic Magnet High School (Claflin University)
Kenetra Johnson, James Island Charter High School (Clemson University)
Ambriance Lamar, Whale Branch Early College High School (Converse College)
Briona Millidge, Whale Branch Early College High School (Winthrop University)
Autumn Turner, Palmetto Scholars Academy (University of Central Florida)
Tanzania Williams, R.B. Stall High School (Howard University)
Tyeshia Williams, Burke High School (Clemson University)
Shawna Wright, Whale Branch Early College High School (Winthrop University)
“In the busy day-to-day of my career, it is easy to feel disconnected from the people, places and things that truly move us, the things that have the power to make real change,” says committee member Bill Lewis. “In reaction to an unfathomable tragedy the generous donors to this scholarship fund have created a program that has this power.”
Scholars are eligible to renew their award each year by maintaining good standing in the program, with an expected total award of $320,000 to the Class of 2017 over their four years of college.
The program—now in its second year—is supporting 21 students in total with a dollar amount of nearly $160,000 being awarded in the 2017-2018 academic year across the two cohorts.
“This program gives promising students an opportunity to attend their first-choice schools,” says Darrin Goss, Sr., President and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation. “Feeling a sense of belonging in the place where one studies is a key ingredient to academic, social, and civic engagement so this difference is integral to student achievement.”
Programming for new scholars will begin this summer with an initial orientation session on July 15 covering topics pertaining to the college transition, such as time management and on-campus resources. All Pinckney Scholars (Class of 2016 and Class of 2017) will attend a luncheon and professional development session with former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Dr. James A. Joseph. Each scholar and a guest will be invited to attend the Coastal Community Foundation’s annual gala celebration that evening where Ambassador Joseph is scheduled to give the keynote speech. Foundation staff will develop a communication schedule with each scholar for the fall semester and reunite the scholar cohorts during winter break.
62 applications were pre-screened by a committee of diverse community members, and 18 semi-finalist applications were sent to the Selection Committee (Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Mr. William M. Lewis, Mrs. Jennifer Pinckney, and The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr.) and then narrowed down to 11 finalists based on three main criteria: academic performance, substantial financial need and leadership potential. The Selection Committee conducted individual interviews with the 11 finalists on May 9 at Coastal Community Foundation.
“It’s a great honor to be a part of this program to commemorate Reverend Pinckney and his wonderful legacy,” says former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. “And it’s thrilling to meet this most remarkable group of young people. It’s special and inspiring.”
About the Reverend Pinckney Scholars Fund and Program
On July 2, 2015, a group of anonymous donors, moved by the tragic murders at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church and Charleston’s remarkable response to the shooting, created a $3.2 million scholarship fund in honor of Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney. In March 2016, Coastal Community Foundation began to administer the scholarship fund and its companion program, the Reverend Pinckney Scholars Program.
About Coastal Community Foundation
Coastal Community Foundation empowers individuals, families and organizations to make a lasting impact through permanent, endowed funds for charitable giving. The Foundation serves Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry and Jasper counties. To learn more, visit or call (843) 723-3635.


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